Preparing Reading Professionals (Second Edition)
Developmental-Spelling Research: A Systematic Imperative
This piece describes how a team of first-grade teachers began to question their literacy/phonics program, which used a whole-class format for instruction. The teachers felt that teaching the whole class did not allow them to meet the diverse needs of all their students. One of the teachers introduced the rest of the team to developmental-spelling research and, specifically, to an approach to phonics and spelling instruction called word study. By using developmental-spelling assessments, the teachers believed they could better meet their students' needs through differentiated word study in small groups. The new school year began with qualitative spelling assessments and subsequent grouping plans. Many issues arose quickly. When teachers placed their students along a developmental continuum of spelling features, they saw that many students could bypass earlier features that, according to assessment results, they had already learned. The idea of having a group of students skip over easier features made them anxious about meeting the Reading First criteria for systematic phonics instruction. In their previous whole-class teaching, everyone started in the same place and proceeded systematically through the curriculum. The teachers were uncertain about choosing different spelling features for different groups. They found themselves spending more time preparing when they were used to depending upon an already prepared program. Management issues associated with differentiated groupings proved to be challenging. They wondered how teachers could take developmental-spelling research and make it practical for the classroom.
Invernizzi, M., & Hayes, L. (2010).
Developmental-Spelling Research: A Systematic Imperative.
In R.M. Bean, N. Heisey, & C.M. Roller (Eds.), Preparing Reading Professionals (Second Edition) (pp. 39-54). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.